All About: The BRAT Diet

Toast on a plate on a white counter.

The BRAT Diet has historically been recommended to help with stomach issues. But does it work? Is it safe? Learn all of the above and more.

What is the BRAT Diet? How does it work?

The BRAT Diet, occasionally known as the Bland Diet, is a diet that used to be recommended for people suffering from gastroenteritis or other stomach issues.

The BRAT Diet is very simple and consists of just 4 core foods: bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. There also other variations such as the BRATT Diet, which contains tea, and the BRATY Diet, which contains yogurt.

The theory behind the BRAT Diet is that because the foods are simple and bland they'll promote "gut rest", which will help alleviate stomach issues.

Does the BRAT Diet work?

There is no scientific evidence that the BRAT Diet works. Additionally, there is some evidence that the BRAT Diet might cause conditions to last longer due to malnutrition.

The consensus among dietitians and doctors is that the BRAT Diet isn't ideal because it's missing or low in many required nutrients. In particular, it's extremely low in fat, fiber, protein, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and calcium.

With that said, there are some benefits to eating the foods included in the BRAT Diet. Bananas contain amylase-resistant starch, which possibly protects the gastrointestinal mucosa in animals and improve symptoms of non-ulcer dyspepsia and peptic ulcer in humans. There is also some data suggesting that rice may possess anti-secretory properties. Rice-based oral rehydration solutions (ORS) have also been shown to reduce the volume of stools and the duration of diarrhea in patients with cholera. Adding yogurt also improves nutrition by adding protein and calcium.

Overall the consensus is that any benefits are outweighed by the lack of nutrition and the BRAT Diet should not be followed.

BRAT Diet Alternatives

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends oral rehydration therapy for children with acute gastroenteritis complicated by dehydration. Commercially available fluids or powders like Pedialyte are sufficient.

It does not recommend apple juice, soda, or sports drinks as they have too much sugar and carbohydrates while not having enough electrolytes like sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, and magnesium.

More research is needed to definitively say which types of foods help and hurt stomach issues. The current consensus is to eat foods generally considered to be healthy like lean meats, yogurts, fruits, vegetables, and complex carbohydrates. Fatty foods are not recommended for gastroenteritis.

Is the BRAT Diet safe?

The BRAT Diet is likely safe to try for a short period of time. However, it's generally not recommended for longer than a day or two as it's low in essential vitamins, protein, fiber, fat, and other nutrients.

Is the BRAT Diet healthy or unhealthy?

The BRAT Diet is definitely an unhealthy long-term option as it's not close to a complete diet. As referenced above, whether it's healthy for stomach issues is up for debate.

The healthiness of the BRAT Diet also depends on the ingredients chosen. For example, some applesauce brands contain added sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Bread can also have mixed nutritional value based on added ingredients and the type of bread. The same is true for rice as there are many different types of rice and different varieties like instant rice, short-grain, and long-grain.

BRAT Diet Q&A

What foods are included in the BRAT Diet?

The BRAT Diet includes the following foods: bananas, applesauce, rice, and toast. The BRATT Diet, another variation, includes tea while the BRATY Diet includes yogurt.

How long should you stay on the BRAT Diet?

The BRAT Diet is not recommended for any duration as it's not a nutritionally complete diet. However, if you try it, it's probably safe to try for a short duration such as 1-2 days.

Looking for more diet ideas?

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